The original temple of Puri is said to have its origins dating back to almost 1078 to 1148 CE. However, the one we see today is a reconstructed version of the original temple that was built in the year 1174 CE by king Ananga Bhima Deva.
This temple has a mythical past to it. It is said that when Pandavas began their journey to Yama Lok, the Sapta Rishis advised them to visit the Chaar Dham to attain moksha. One destination of this Chaar Dham is the Puri Jagannath Temple.
The three idols placed in this temple are of Lord Krishna or Lord Jagannath along with his brother Balarama and sister Subhadra. How these unique wooden idols came into being is yet another alluring story of this temple.
Legend has it that Lord Vishnu manifested near the seashore at the end of the Treta Yuga in the form of a blue colored jewel called Indranilamani. The shine of this jewel was so bright that it could grant instant moksha to anyone who looked at it. In order to prevent that from happening, Lord Yama hid that jewel by burying it. Later in Dwapara Yuga, a Malwa king named Indradyumna wanted to find that jewel and performed severe penance for it. Lord Vishnu in the form of a divine voice instructed King Indradyumna to make an idol out of a tree log that he can find floating on Puri beach. As instructed Lord Indradyumna set out on his task where Lord Vishnu himself took the form of an artisan to sculpt the idols. He, however, demanded that he remain undisturbed until he is done. After a couple of weeks, the king and queen took the artisan to be dead as there was no sound from him and entered the workplace thereby invading his privacy and solace. Lord Vishnu hence left the idols unfinished. It is because of this that Puri Jagannath’s idol is said to have no hands.
Of all the festivals celebrated in this temple, two remain to be of utmost importance- The Rath Yatra and The Nabakalebara.
Once every year, in the rainy month of Asadha (around June or July), the three idols of Puri Jagannath temple are brought out onto the main streets of Puri where they are carried on wheeled chariots to Shri Gundicha Temple where they stay for nine days and then return back to Shri Mandri, halting at Mausi Maa Temple on their way back.
This procession is called Rath Yatra and is a major celebration in Odisha. People decorate roads and the chariots are well decorated by skilled artisans for this purpose.
A once in a blue moon festival, Nabakalebara usually occurs in a time gap of 8, 12 or even 18 years. During this time, the existing idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balarama, and Devi Subhadra are buried and new idols are installed. These idols are made using a special variety of wood and this festival calls in huge population from across the globe.
Arts and crafts of Lord Jagannath from our collection:
At Artisanscrest, we house a very exquisite range of art and craft related to Lord Jagannath and the temple of Puri.
Take a look below.